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351 - Not Going for Reps, But Sets

I’ve been using 531 for a dam long time. I am a typical hard gainer idiot who doesn’t rest enough and makes little gains.

I get annoyed from time to time but I have accepted I will never lift ridiculous amounts nor will I gain decent size.

Right so apart from that, I am now doing this template.

Week 1 - 3x3.
Week 2 - 3x5
Week 3 - 3x2
Week 4 - Deload, which I never seem to do then wonder why I am burnt out.

So I do the usual two warm up sets, then onto the big set where usually you would do 531+ however, I do the number of reps required minimum then work in sets.

Once I do the main lift, I then do the opposite lift. I use the %s for the 3s week and day dependant I will either pyramid up, 70%/80%/90% for sets of 3, or perhaps I will stick at one and focus on reps, or something like deficit deads, pause squats, pause bench.

I will also do pull ups each day apart from squat day. I also include the basic accessories, weighted pullups/dips, db work, leg press, stiff leg etc. Very little.

It’s actually provided some fair gains in my strength.

I’ve just went ahead and tested my maxes, due to leaning up for summer I wanted to know where I am at incase I lose strength.

190kg Deadlift.
67.5kg OHP
150kg Squat
115kg Bench

Weak I know but that’s just me.

What are peoples thoughts on this and what can I swap OHP day to? I struggle so hard on OHP and I spin my wheels. I am done with the lift as I take two steps forwards one back, it’s a waste of time and I’d rather focus on my bench. I was thinking about changing OHP day to a lighter bench day, possibly pause bench. I’d still do lighter OHP after my bench for accessory.


How many days you doing a week 4? Try switching to 3, helps the burn out and atleast for me enables consistent progression.

And your number are fine- stick with the program, we all think about man I want to bench 150kg or whatever numbers in your mind, but first you got to bench 120kg and even with a year of 5forward/3back or however you have to progress it’s viable to get there after a few years. Just add up all the small wins from each session and stay the course.

Yeah I do four days. I haven’t considered going to three, suppose I could cut out OHP and just not go. But honestly I’d like to keep four days, even if on that day I did “bullshit” stuff.

I know progress is progress and usually it’s slow, I just get annoyed at times that results don’t match the work put in. But that’s another story!

One of my favorite adages, I forget where it came from but goes something along the lines of
"You only train for one hour a day, you got another 23 hours to fuck it all up."

Can be a combination of nutrition, mobility, stress, fatigue, sleep etc. Generally they all are intertwined. A lot of us tend to mental masturbate on a topic we already have dialed in- like you have a solid program in following any of the 5/3/1 principles. Maybe it’s a lack of plan/control in one of those other areas holding you back.

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“I get annoyed from time to time but I have accepted I will never lift ridiculous amounts nor will I gain decent size”

A large part of success is mental and having the right attitude towards what task you are trying to accomplish so as much as I think there are some things you could change in your training, I see your outlook on your training, ability to succeed towards your goals as the first change necessary. With the right mindset and dedication, PRs shall fall

No doubt I over analyze, always trying to be better.

I am going to follow this for some more time as I’ve already said made half decent gains (for me atleast).

But I am so confused on what to do with OHP. I hit 72.5kg on it over two years ago, since that time I have never came close to that, but all my other lifts have improved slightly.

This idea has been done years and years ago - specific templates and all areas covered. Why don’t you do that?

Just a quick bit of advice on this…

If you like to “over analyze” things, spend your time thinking of ways you can get more rest and ways to develop a more positive attitude towards your training.

As for the training itself, it’s simple: Let Jim’s work be your guide. There are a ton of free 5/3/1 templates/challenges on this forum/site, and hopefully you’ve bought a couple of his books, because they’re invaluable resources.

There’s no need for you to over analyze or tweak the templates. We’re lucky enough to have someone who is much smarter than you or I doing that. Learn the principles, then follow the principles for some time. If you do that, you’ll start to see positive results, and you’ll trust the principles.

When you trust the principles, you’re golden. But you have to learn them and follow them wholeheartedly first.

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Jim I was unaware of specific templates on that. I over time have got lost from the basic routine, towards advanced 531, perhaps I should revisit the books.

Is there any links for the templates so I can find them easier? Thanks.

I found one thing that helped my OHP, was (light) 1 arm bottom up press with KBs. Trains a strong groove, helped my shoulder health and another grip fryer. Anything w/ grip work helps all lifts. I took off bench for 5+ training cycles on a total body 531 Did a ton of pulling, prehab work, and grip work, came back to it recently - didnt lose any strength and if anything I can progress stronger now way more in control of the bar/balanced flying up even on pause reps.

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The press is all about generating lots of speed off your shoulders. It also seems to benefit greatly from assistance work.

That means lots of throwing and lots of band pull aparts/face pulls.

The press is an awesome lift and I encourage you to come to peace with slow progress and really challenge yourself to be better on it.

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Okay I will stick at it, just hope/pray to continue to make progress, even if it is slow!

You have more control over the outcome than this. Your belief, expectations of yourself ans your commitment are more tightly coupled than you might think.

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